Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29 - Dear Nicholas Sparks (Guest Blogger Heather Campbell)

Dear Mr. Sparks,

My name is Heather Campbell and my beautiful baby boy Brady was born on July 14, 1999. My husband, Lee, had taken me to the doctor's office for my monthly check-up when I was about two months pregnant. He had decided that he wasn't going to go in this time because we had our daughter and son with us. I had had an ultrasound done about a week before this appointment and was really excited to hear the results. My doctor informed me that she thought that she had seen a problem with the baby and that she wanted me to go to a specialist in Columbus.

When I left her office, I was sick. I went out to the parking lot and waited for my husband to pick me up. I guess the funny part is that I had had some trouble with my other two children (medically) and had always told my husband that I was afraid to try to have another baby, because I knew in my heart that something would go wrong and that I would lose him. I don't know how I knew, I just did.

My husband and I went to see the specialist that my doctor had referred me to. While there, we were informed that it looked as if our son

had CDH. The specialist told me that to find out whether there were any other abnormalities, I should have an amnio done. We went to have the amnio done, and the doctor told me that if we could wait, he would tell me the results right away. We waited. He informed me that our son did indeed have CDH and that the likelihood that he would die from it was very good. He told me that I basically had two options...I could have an abortion, or I could deliver the baby and watch my son die. I am strongly against abortion, and I felt that if my son died, it wouldn't be because I had taken his life.

I should tell you that at no time during my pregnancy did any doctor tell me that I could look into having surgery to repair the damage while I was still pregnant. I was also never told that I could take steroids to help his lung development. I was given absolutely no information on his condition until after he was born.

On July 14, 1999, my son was born. My labor was induced on the 13th, and after it was discovered that there was no room for him in the NICU at Children's Hospital, my doctor decided to stop my labor and have me wait until the following morning to actually deliver.

I was told that my son wouldn't cry. They said that if he did, it would be very surprising. Well, he cried. I guess I filled myself with false hope. I thought, "Well, if they were wrong about that, then maybe they are wrong about everything else too." After Brady was born, I was taken to a room to recover in. They put me in a room in the maternity section, so that I could hear all of the babies cry and listen to all of the other mothers ooh and aah over their new children.

I waited for about an hour before I was taken down to see my baby. I couldn't stay long because it broke my heart to see him hooked to all of the machines. When I had decided that it was time for me to go, a nurse was wheeling me down the hall when one of the other nurses hollered, "Does she want to have him baptized? I really think that she should, because I don't see him lasting very long." I couldn't believe what I had heard. To this day, I don't know if he was ever baptized. I vaguely remember nodding my head yes and being taken back to my room.

The next day, I left. Brady had been taken across town to the Children's Hospital, and not knowing how long he would be here, I wanted to be with him.

He hung on for 11 days. He suffered through ECMO, chest tubes, edema, and Lord only knows how much pain. They say that there was no way he felt any pain, yet when I held his hand, he tightened his finger around my finger, when I rubbed his foot, he pulled away as if it tickled him. If he felt all of that, then how do they know that he couldn't feel any pain?

On July 25th, I was told that it was no use. He would never get any better, and he was just "using blood through the ECMO machine that could be used for a child that did have a chance."

I called my family and they made the two-hour drive to say their good-byes and to be with me and my husband. I still regret that I didn't spend any special time with him that day. I now know that I was putting off the inevitable. I knew that as long as I wasn't back there, they couldn't remove him from his machines. So I stayed away as long as possible.

When I finally did go, I sat down in a rocking chair, and they handed me my beautiful baby boy for the first and last time. I held him and talked to him. I told him how very much I loved him and that I was sorry that there was nothing that I could do for him. And then, I told him that it was okay. That he could go.

I felt my son die. I have no way of explaining it except to say that, when he left, I knew-- because he took a part of my heart with him. I felt the ache in my chest. I remember the nurse telling me that she had to check his heart rate using the stethoscope. I told her that she didn't have to, that he was gone. I handed my precious little angel to the nurse, and I walked out. I vaguely remember slumping against a wall in the waiting area outside of the NICU, being led outside and my mother-in-law handing me one of her anti-depressants. I can't really remember much after that.

Just last year, I was looking out my living room window, talking to my mother on the phone when a white hearse drove past. I told my mom that I had never seen a white hearse before, and she said, "Honey, you followed a white hearse all the way to the cemetery the day we buried Brady. You were right behind it. Don't you remember?" No, I didn't. Like I said, I don't remember anything about it. All I remember is the feeling of my boy squeezing my finger right after I told him he could let go, and the feeling of him leaving.

Brady's mom, Heather Campbell (Ohio)

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